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7 charged for defaming Indian leader

NEW DELHI — Police in southern India have arrested seven people, including four students, and charged them with defaming the country’s new prime minister in a college magazine, officials said Friday.

The arrests came after an annual student magazine at the Government Polytechnic College in Kerala state included a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a collage of what it called ‘‘negative faces.’’ Others included in the collage were Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and former US President George W. Bush.

The seven people were arrested Wednesday and charged with defamation and criminal conspiracy, district police chief N. Vijaya Kumar said. They were released on bail Thursday. If found guilty, they could face prison terms and stiff fines.

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The four students helped edit the magazine. The others who were arrested included the college’s top official, the magazine’s faculty adviser, and the owner of the company that printed the publication.

Police seized a printing press and computers used to design the magazine as well as nearly 400 copies of the magazine, Kumar said.

‘‘They were arrested under several charges, including defamation, intentional insult to provoke breach of peace, criminal conspiracy, and printing matter known to be defamatory,’’ he said.

This year’s issue of the magazine, which was distributed last week, explained world history through pictures of faces. The magazine listed people under five categories: spiritual, literature, world leaders, negative, and sports.

Associated Press